M.F. Dulock Pasture-Raised Meats could be a mere two weeks from opening in Somerville, according to owner Michael Dulock, who tells Eater that he’s ready for the last step of inspections and permitting. The construction is mainly complete, leaving some decorating and other finishing touches. Once everything’s in place, he’ll soft open first, mainly for the people who donated money during his Indiegogo campaign. (Similar to Kickstarter, Indiegogo allows supporters of projects to donate money and earn rewards at various dollar levels, so the soft opening will allow M.F. Dulock supporters to come in and pick up their meat prizes.) A week after that, the whole-animal butcher shop will open to the public, bringing locally-raised, hormone-free, antibiotic-free meats to Somerville, steps from the Armory (home of the Somerville Winter Farmers Market).
The shop will always carry a variety of cuts of beef and pork, lamb most of the time, and goat and veal when available. The whole animals will be brought in from a 250-mile radius, which includes the vast majority of New England and part of New York. Dulock is working with a number of farmers groups from the area that encompass many small farms and ranches that simply can’t produce enough to effectively get their meats to market; this gives them a viable retail outlet. A livestock broker in Rhode Island, for example, has been shipping meat off to Pennsylvania due to a lack of a local retail market, so Dulock will provide an opportunity to keep the meat within a more local food system. Ultimately, Dulock has an open-door policy to farmers who meet his guidelines regarding how the animals are raised; even a farmer who raises just three animals a year and keeps half for her family could potentially sell the rest to Dulock.
The focus on whole animals provides an opportunity to offer more unusual cuts of meat, but the offerings will necessarily vary based on customer demand. If no one is interested in lamb neck, for example, it won’t be readily available; instead, the neck would probably be going into more common preparations like sausage. One challenge of running a butcher shop on this scale is that customers who are used to walking into the supermarket and getting whatever cut they want might be surprised to find that at a shop like M.F. Dulock, they might need to be more flexible. Certain cuts and certain animals won’t always be available as Dulock sells his way through the meat available to him while trying to meet demand for specific cuts. He sees this as an opportunity to educate customers on available alternatives as well as help people to reconnect with the source of the food. Many consumers, for example, are unable to understand a specific cut of meat in the context of a whole animal; Dulock hopes to help bridge this disconnect and "recreate what was in the past" when consumers had "more of a direct connection to their food."
M.F. Dulock Pasture-Raised Meats will likely be open on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 AM to 7 PM.